Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks to improve instructor training

by: Marlie Beets

If a person’s keen to learn to ski or snowboard and is visually impaired, missing a limb, or has autism, where do they go for the kind of specialized instruction they need? One option is Sun Peaks Resort in B.C.’s Interior where a recent grant of $10,000 from the Kamloops Blazers “Sports Legacy Fund” will help Adaptive Sports at Sun Peaks (ASSP) continue to support training and certification for its roster of volunteer instructors.

Veteran ASSP volunteer Gerry Tremblay works with Cassie Kennedy to improve her sit-ski techniques.  Photo: George Wycherley

Veteran ASSP volunteer Gerry Tremblay works with Cassie Kennedy to improve her sit-ski techniques.
Photo: George Wycherley

“Volunteers are our biggest asset,” says Sharon Tremblay, ASSP President. “Financial support for volunteers to continue their training beyond initial certification through the Canadian Association of Disabled Skiing (CADS) is a key element to increasing instructional skills, retaining our volunteers and delivering a quality program to our students.” Tremblay adds that ASSP is extremely grateful to the Kamloops Blazers for several donations that began in 2009.

This grant will enable volunteers, such as Jodi Roberts who has been an ASSP volunteer for two years, to improve their teaching skills as they work with students.

“Working with the students is so rewarding, but it’s a big responsibility too. I know that I’ll be a lot more confident after I’ve taken my next level of training and it’s a huge help to get some financial support to do the course,” says Roberts.

Parent, Nan Stevens, has this to say about the program: “My son, Westin, lives with pervasive developmental delay. He’s skied with the ASSP program at Sun Peaks for the last four winters. He’s gained strength, endurance, and an understanding of needing to stay within the boundaries of the ski runs. Most of all, he’s benefited from the social interaction and positive relationships with the ASSP staff, volunteers and other skiers. Thanks to the enrichment of the ASSP program, Westin will have a leisure activity that he can participate in for the rest of his life.”

Tremblay says that drop-in traffic since the new office in the Coast Sundance Lodge opened this season has greatly increased awareness of the program. As more people with a disability learn about the skiing and snowboarding opportunities ASSP expects the market for these specialized lessons to increase and, with help from the Blazer’s Legacy Fund, they plan to be ready with well-trained volunteer instructors.